Coordinate Closeup · Review

Coord closeup: The Phantom of the Opera

I am the sort of person who lives in headphones. I do most of my work alone, but music is my constant companion.

Lots of people have their own soundtrack to life, that’s normal; but then I’ve never been much a fan of radio pop and hip-hop. Classical music has always been closest to my heart, and in times of great stress the one thing that is guaranteed to calm me down is opera.

Specifically, the Three Tenors.* But we’re not here to talk about three guys in suits. Instead, the spotlight is on one man in particular, the specter that haunts the opera house – the Phantom of the Opera.

* – and in case you do hear ‘O Sole Mio’ from my cubicle, it was either that or venting my rage on the cow plushie I keep on my desk
  • JSK – Infanta Rose Church in ivory
  • blouse – offbrand. If you’re familiar with my wardrobe post, it’s Blouse # 16!
  • underdress – H&M ivory georgette
  • gloves, wristcuffs – Bodyline; the wristcuffs were tea-dyed to suit my wardrobe
  • necklace – offbrand
  • mask – handmade by Franz of Fancy Moi!
  • sheer socks – BTSSB
  • shoes – Zanea

The funny thing is that I had no intention of watching the musical that weekend. My Mom sprung the tickets on me as a surprise, and it really supercharged my positivity levels for the rest of my week. This time I didn’t have to go through the whole ‘I have nothing to wear’ spiel; when I think of PoTO the first thing that comes to mind is this JSK from Infanta.

Infanta sold this colorway as ‘defective’ at a reduced price; from what I heard, the gold stamping is supposed to be more crisp and solid.

But I actually like it this way! It is much more subtle than the jewel-toned colorways, and in my mind that makes it more wearable. Matching golds is a bugbear of mine, and at full strength the gold stamping might have been difficult to match with the jewelry I have.

Regarding the mask, Franz released her collection at MATA EXPO in February. She made masks in various styles, from Classic to Gothic and Sweet. They were lovely (and this white mask lay right in the middle of her table) but at the time, I said ‘I don’t know what I could wear it with’.

Yes, I said that. Not a month later I sent off a barrage of panicky messages to Franz, who was gracious enough not to poke fun at me for it.

I wanted to keep most of the focus on the mask, so makeup was kept relatively simple: a smoky eye without false lashes, and red lips. Pasay is anywhere between two to three hours away, so I wanted to be comfortable. False lashes sometimes get in the way whenever I watch movies, and I didn’t want to get teary-eyed halfway through and give myself raccoon eyes by accident.

Originally this mask had a stick in one side to hold as a prop; anything that doesn’t fit it my handbag has a tendency to disappear, so I opted to remove the stick.

At events like these with a large audience, I favor smaller headpieces so as not to annoy the people sitting behind me; easily achieved here by wearing it flat instead of upright. I didn’t have enough hair in this wig to create a bouffant, but one of my fabric flowers in brown worked in a pinch.

It made a very nice fluffy base, just enough to prop up the mask so it wasn’t hovering above my head. I made use of the lace edging around the mask to secure it to my wig with pins; no matter what ridiculous thing you’re wearing on your head, it will look cool as long as it doesn’t fall off.

Confession time: my first exposure to Phantom in visual media was through Joel Schumacher’s 2004 movie adaptation.

I was still in high school then and my experience with classical music was limited to my family’s collection of CDs. At the time I liked the costumes, liked the set design, and I had no idea why my Mom winced and my Dad made agonized faces whenever Gerard Butler opened his mouth to sing.

Has anything changed since then? Years of art studies later I am older and more cynical, but I still like the costume design! Some of it, anyway.

Christine’s white dress during her breakout performance of ‘Think of Me’ made a big impression on me, and it still remains the iconic diva look in my book despite making absolutely no sense in the context of the production the company was putting on in the story.

Does this white dress scream Hannibal to you? No?

That’s because the white dress is but one of Joel Schumacher’s many mind-boggling directorial decisions.

This is the original dress Christine wears in the musical. I suppose the dress Carlotta wore in the movie was too garish for Emmy Rossum, but there should have been some way to make it work without the mental whiplash of a woman singing under the moonlight in a European garden.

Then again, Hannibal today conjures up images of Mads Mikkelsen (or Anthony Hopkins), not Carthage.

About that, I have no complaints. Vide cor meum would be wonderful to hear onstage.

Solaire went pretty heavy on the hype for the musical, setting up displays in several areas for people to take pictures. It’s best to head to the venue early and spend the time wandering around; the photo areas near the theater of course have their own queues.

I should mention that despite the theater itself and the stores being Non-Smoking, there is a lingering smell of smoke around the function halls and casino areas. If you’re strongly allergic to smoke smells, prepare accordingly! If you stick to the primary escalators leading to the theater, you’ll be alright.

These were taken outside the Oasis cafe, in the center of the ground floor. There’s a water fixture and live piano music, but they offer lighter fare than what we were looking for, so we decided to eat at Waterside, which was nearby.

If you purchased your ticket through TicketWorld, you miss out on this gorgeous little folder. It might be risky to purchase from the theater on the day itself since most of the best seats have been sold long in advance, but it might still be possible to get this through a seat upgrade.

Standees around the theater. The costumes are wonderfully detailed; I’d love to see them up close in an exhibit! Sadly there’s a low chance of that ever happening, because the tour continues on to Singapore next! See the world tour page for more info.

There are three photo spots set up near the theater doors: two feature mirrors and a giant glittering mask mounted on the wall, and the third is a typical ‘photo wall’ with a cape and rose for guests to pose with. Since I was already dressed to suit the theme, I made a beeline for the mirrors. It might be a bit difficult to take pictures with the lighting being so dim, but the candlelit effect is lovely.

I look crabby here, and it’s because people behind my mother were taking pictures without asking.

I guess I’m still not used to it; I don’t know if I ever will. Even if you give them the sort of look that burns, it doesn’t deter some people.

Once you make it past the displays, there’s one more photo wall before you reach the doors. For orchestra and VIP seating, you have to go down another escalator to reach your spot.

Unlike the CCP theater, Solaire does not have box seating. In my opinion, the best seats in the house are not the ones right in front of the stage, where you’ll be craning your neck back to see the full action. Middle of the orchestra is just right. ( つ·̀ω·́)つ

And now…

Let the audience in, let my opera begin!

The moment where the dust and curtains fly off and reveal the rich golden stage is one thing that Joel Schumacher did get right. The overture gives me chills every time.

Since I could only take pictures during the intermissions, here is a shot of the gorgeous stage while I organize my thoughts.

Lately, there has been a lot of chatter online about how concert and stage tickets have become ever more expensive. It’s a third world country, things should cost less- that sort of thing. It’s true that compared to the price of a movie ticket or a Netflix subscription, a ticket to a musical is eye-gougingly expensive. In your head this number morphs into a series of calculations of things you need in your daily life: food, rent, internet connectivity, and gas.

Probably not in that order.

Internet connectivity should be higher up on that list.

But I don’t see something like the Phantom as mental junk food. I like to think of it instead as an experience; an example of the transformative nature of art in our lives.

CGI is a vital tool that made many great films possible, but onstage there is no After Effects or auto-tune to make magic happen, beyond raw talent and the ingenuity of production design.

Pictured: not Jonathan Roxmouth, but the man is a treasure. source

I can’t begin to describe the feeling of awe at hearing the ringing, commanding voice of a true Phantom – Jonathan Roxmouth does all the performances with no alternate. Now this is a man who could convince you to live in a sewer. Maybe not for very long (where do you go to the bathroom? is there a sewer for the sewer? I have so many questions) but his voice has such power, it would move mountains.

We went to the matinee, and unfortunately our Christine was not the lead soprano but her alternate, Clara Verdier.

Miss Verdier looks beautiful as Christine and sings okay in some of her arias, but in any piece where she sings with anyone else, she loses. Admittedly it is difficult to beat two men singing at full strength (Matt Leisy makes a fine Raoul, his singing is superb), but when Meg has more vocal power than Christine; Houston, we have a problem.

It makes me look twice at Carlotta and think, maybe she had a point.

The makeup for the stage phantom is really good. Miles above the ‘mild allergic reaction’ Gerard Butler had. Nothing antihistamines can’t fix.

After the show

We need to talk about this. They are selling Phantom masks, photo books, cloaks, CDs (of course), and teddy bears. Teddy bears. Yes. Say it with me:

Phantom Teddy Bears

Now they are very, very cute and all but I got stuck on this one point because this circles back to my freakout with the Twilight books and Edward Obsessed Boyfriend Cullen. The Phantom stalks Christine, threatens her, tries to marry her against her will, kills several people, one by dropping a chandelier onto her… and you put his face (or mask) on a teddy bear.

Look, it’s cute. I’m not throwing stones at people who bought it- it’s cute. But I do feel that if I received one intended as a gift, it would send some VERY problematic signals. Sort of like those macabre-mantic letters that go ‘My heart bleeds for you, I would die without you’.

No, you will not die without me, cut that out. Go get a checkup and a healthy relationship.

Although it has its flaws, The Phantom of the Opera truly is ‘God’s gift to musical theater’, as the Times put it. The season has been extended till April due to massive demand; do go see it, even if you have to shuffle around your regular activities to do so. And aim for a performance with Meghan Picerno!

Turn your thoughts away from cold, unfeeling light
And listen to the music of the night

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